Arkansas-Pine Bluff will begin the season as a nationally ranked football team.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff will begin the season as a nationally ranked football team.

The Sporting News ranked UAPB 16th in its Preseason FCS Top 25 poll in the publication’s annual college football preview magazine. So far, it is UAPB’s only ranking in a poll that covers the entire Football Championship Subdivision.

The poll has two-time defending national champion North Dakota State ranked No. 1, followed by Georgia Southern, Montana State, Eastern Washington and Appalachian State. Central Arkansas is ranked 11th.

UAPB has ranked high in black college football polls during the 2012 season. The Golden Lions, who finished 10-2 and SWAC champions, won the Heritage Sports Radio Network national championship as the No. 1 team in its FCS poll, finished No. 2 in the final Sheridan Broadcasting Network poll, and was No. 3 in the final Boxtorow HBCU Media Top 10. The Lions also were just three spots out of the final Sports Network FCS Top 25 poll.

With the Sporting News’ ranking, Lions fans now can watch a nationally-ranked team from home up to three times early this season. The SWAC released its broadcast schedule for this season Thursday, and the first three UAPB games are set for television and the Internet. will broadcast UAPB’s Aug. 31 season opener at Arkansas State and Sept. 14 home game against Alabama State, while Comcast SportsNet will televise the Sept. 7 game at McNeese State in Lake Charles, La. ESPNU has the broadcasting rights to the Toyota SWAC Football Championship on Dec. 7.

UAPB appeared on ESPNU twice last year, defeating Alabama State and Jackson State in the SWAC final.